GAME NOTES: Coming off a weekend victory over a ranked opponent, No. 21 Wisconsin turns its attention to the Golden Gophers of Minnesota for a Big Ten Conference clash at the Kohl Center.
Minnesota is looking to build on Saturday's 66-60 triumph over Indiana, which snapped a three-game skid. However, that victory came on the Golden Gophers' home floor, and beginning here they'll play three of their next four on the road.
Wisconsin was in action this past Sunday as it claimed a 60-58 win over ninth- ranked Michigan State on Traevon Jackson's pull-up jumper with 2.1 seconds remaining. It marked the second consecutive victory for the Badgers, who had lost five of their previous six games and were sinking fast in the Big Ten standings.
Minnesota cruised to an 81-68 victory when these teams met up on Jan. 22 in Minneapolis, and the Gophers lead the all-time series, 96-88.
The Golden Gophers forced 11 second-half turnovers against Indiana as they rallied back from a 13-point deficit to win it. DeAndre Mathieu scored 10 of his game-high 16 points over those final 20 minutes. Maurice Walker (eight rebounds) and Andre Hollins joined Mathieu in double figures with 14 and 10 points, respectively. The Gophers were opportunistic on the defensive end, tallying 20 points on 16 IU turnovers. On the season, Hollins paces the squad with 14.9 ppg. Mathieu, a 50.2-percent shooter from the floor, is next in line with 11.8 ppg. Austin Hollins (11.7 ppg, 6.0 rpg) and Malik Smith (10.0 ppg) round out the double-digit scorers.
Wisconsin boasts a +10.0 scoring margin on the season as it shoots 46 percent from the floor and 37 percent from 3-point range as a team. The same five players have started every game this season, and Sam Dekker headlines that group with a team-best 13.5 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. Ben Brust (13.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg), Frank Kaminsky (12.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg), Jackson (10.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg) and Josh Gasser (8.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg) fill out the starting lineup. Thanks to Jackson's late-game heroics, Wisconsin was able to overcome a game-tying three by MSU's Adreian Payne with 10 seconds left. The Badgers were also able to overcome 14 turnovers, six more than their NCAA-best average of 8.3 per game. Nigel Hayes paced four Badgers in double figures with 14 points off the bench.
Wisconsin came up with a huge win over the weekend, but can it build on that momentum and avoid the dreaded letdown game? Perhaps last month's 13-point loss to Minnesota will provide all the motivation the Badgers need in this rematch.
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